Running Scared, Running Free: Escape to the Promise Land

by  The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

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What would you do for your freedom? Imagine a life where leaving everything you have ever known behind was your only chance to truly live. Set during the era of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, students meet Carolina, a former slave. Now living in Stony Brook, she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Carolina illuminates the abolitionist movement, guided by the labor of people such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Using quilt codes and constellations as their guides, students imagine they are Railroad conductors and design escape routes northward from South Carolina. Together with Carolina, they explore the enduring meaning of freedom for all Americans.

Our trained instructor guides your students in understanding the system of slavery in the US as well as the challenges the enslaved and their allies faced in its abolition. The program also celebrates the strength and determination of those who struggled to survive and resist it.  The program, and the pre and post lesson material utilize maps, photographs, paintings, real-life accounts, and historic documents. 

 Students will discover the answers to the following questions:
Where was the Fugitive Slave Act and how did it impact the enslaved, as well as free blacks?   
What challenges and risks did runaway slaves and their helpers face?, What forms of communication and codes were used on the Underground Railroad? 

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About This Program


Multipoint: $175.00
Point to Point: $175.00


45 minutes with question and answer session

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Homeschool/Family , Learning PodPublic Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:

For optimum interactivity, we suggest no more then 30 students

Primary Disciplines

Language Arts/English, Problem Solving, Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)
Google Hang Out

Booking Information

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) is proud to present its newest distance learning program utilizing two-way videoconferencing that allows students to travel back in time.

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Please Note: Two weeks notice is required for all cancellations and rescheudules without penalty.

About This Provider

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

Stony Brook, NY
United States

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is proud to offer state-of-the-art programming across the arts and sciences from our authentic historic and environmental properties. Broadcasting live from Long Island’s historic and
environmental landmarks, WMHO supports NY State and Common Core Standard
learning by creating rich virtual environment where students study and observe
artifacts, primary sources, and participate in an exchange of ideas. WMHO’s
digital platforms include (and are not limited to) Zoom, Google Classroom and MS

Deborah Boudreau

Program Details


Facilitator Greeting

Introduction (2 minutes) The instructor will introduce their character as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Lesson (Setting the Scene) (10 minutes) The instructor will discuss the political climate of the United States in the 1850s.

Group Presentation (15 minutes) Each student group will present the ?Escape Plan? that they have developed as a team. The instructor will ask the students questions while remaining in character. Students will be asked what is integral in the development of a successful escape plan, such as mode of transportation, usage of codes and disguises, etc. In addition, students will reveal where they believe the ?Promise Land? is located.

Lesson cont?d (15 minutes) The instructor will discuss the function of the Underground Railroad. They will reveal the methods used to successfully keeping the Railroad ?underground?. In addition, communication codes will be explained as well as demonstrated (i.e. quilt patterns, coded language and songs).

Conclusion (3 minutes) The program will conclude with a question and answer session in which the instructor remains in character. The class will be encouraged to continue the exploration of the subject with the post lesson activities provided.


Students will:

- Learn more about the specific dangers and challenges faced by runaway slaves and their helpers on the Underground Railroad.

- Learn about the Fugitive Slave Act and how it affected the Underground Railroad.

- Create and map an escape route to freedom for a runaway slave.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

As a result of the activities in this program students will be able to understand the major ideas of freedom as a constitutional right for people in America; the social history of African-Americans in America; and the ideas behind and the development of events of African-Americans before, during and after the Civil War.

We support NY State and Common Core Standard learning. Students use artifacts, primary sources, and secondary documents, as well as participate in an exchange of ideas, critical thinking and peer collaboration.

State Standards

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